The Watford Observer has teamed up with Watford Museum and its curator Sarah Priestley to take a journey back to the town’s past through items or places of historical significance.

Number 46 in our 'history of Watford in 50 objects' are two landmarks that are among the most important historic structures in the town - the Sun and Odhams clock towers.

Sarah said: "Not so long ago, Watford was the largest centre of the printing industry in Europe and possibly the world. The printing trade was the town’s main employer, in companies large and small, and in subsidiary industries like paper and ink makings. Sun and Odhams were the biggest printing businesses in Watford and this week’s objects are their iconic but very different clock towers.

"The Odhams clock tower is part of the large print works that still stands in North Watford and is now Trinity Mirror Print. The company was established on this location in 1935, with the current building started in 1954 and inspired in design by Stockholm Town Hall!

"At one time 2,500 people worked on this site which specialised in colour photogravure printing, but although still a print works most of this work is now automated.

"The Sun Clock Tower in West Watford is of a very different Art Deco design and was built to incorporate a pumping house for the Sun Engraving Co. on the site of an artesian well in 1934.

"Sun had moved to a site in Whippendell Road in the early 1920s, and made history with innovation in colour printing. Technological innovation was to be both the success and ultimate downfall of Watford’s printing trade.

"As with Odhams, the business was decimated by Robert Maxwell and what little printing remained in Ascot Road closed in 2004.

"Most definitely a sign of their times, these clock towers are two of our most important relics of Watford’s industrial past but at present the future of the Sun Clock Tower is uncertain."

Watford Museum has now reopened to the public. Admission is free but book first – call 01923 232297 or email For more information, visit